One thing I love about traveling alone is that affords you opportunities to meet people. On my recent trip to San Francisco I met a charming girl and got pulled into the little cocktail party she was enjoying with her friends. I spent time at City Lights Book Store being introduced to some wonderful new writers. I drank coffee and talked about the weather with a kind lady at Persimmon who has breakfast there every morning. On my last night before I left I drank wine with a woman at Blanc and Rouge Wine Bar all afternoon; sitting on their comfy couches, discussing literature.
Although I had hoped to get out of the city while I was there, it wasn’t in the cards this trip. Perhaps next time it will be a trip with friends, camping along the coast. The farthest I got was a trolley hop away to the Mission District.
On the way out to Mission Delores I talked with a Native American man who was originally from Santa Fe. He gave me a street by street tour about the local scene and hidden places as the trolley car rattled along down Market. When we both hopped off at Delores St. he grasped my arm, close to the elbow in the Native way and said, “Always be in good spirits, friend. Don’t stay here after dark,” and with a little wave, he was off to work.
Traveling alone also gives you the opportunity to eves drop on people. On the trolley back from the mission district I listened to the two hipsters sitting behind me and chatting.
Guy 1: “Remember when Emma and I went to New York? The Doctor prescribed me Ambien ..I took about five and had a few mini bottles on the plane. I guess the stewardess called….Dude, I was in this weird zone between sleep and wake. I don’t know what I did, but when we landed the cops put cuffs on me and cuffed me to the railing…”
Guy 2: “This is why I worry about you on long weekends. (Pause.) I got a ticket once for throwing a snowball…”
Chortles and laughter…
I wish I had written down the whole conversation when I returned.
The Mission District is bordering on the rough side of town, but it is also wonderfully non-touristy. The Mission Delores is the oldest, intact missions in California and was the original site of the city of San Francisco. Built in 1791, it is 114 ft. long and 22 ft. wide. It survived the 1909 earth quake with little damage, but the basilica had to be rebuilt.
Located on a broad street, lined with old Victorians and palm trees, the dainty little Mission Delores includes the old mission chapel, the museum and the cemetery. A tour is 5 dollars. To me, this is where real history is found, in places like these where you can walk thorough the cemetery and see the tangible story of a place.
After my visit to Mission Delores I stopped in to the local Starbucks to get advise on a good place to eat. The Barista directed me to Chilango. The Barista was right.
I ordered the Quesadillas Mexico City, filled with spinach, Poblano chilies, Oaxaca cheese and served with Guacamole, rice and black beans. This meal was a far cry from the greasy, lard laden Mexican meals you typically find. The light cheese and the chilies made a wonderful compliment to the savory spinach. The Guacamole was spicy, light and delicious.
I have too many friends who’s names start with the same letter, so I have decided to take a cue from Dr. Seuss start calling them S1 and S2. This is a Margarita that S2 would have given up her open-concept kitchen for. Okay, maybe that is a stretch, but it was ambrosial.
I’m glad I ventured out this holiday alone. It gave me a chance to reconnect with some things I really love (to be reported on later) and remember the things that I am honestly thankful for. San Francisco is a fun city to share with your friends and an even better place to make friends with yourself.